Wednesday, January 18, 2017 Hummer survives the night!

Seward, Alaska

Another bright sunny day, but continued cold and windy. The NNE wind raged across the mountains, flinging any remaining loose snow into streamers and swirls off the tops, leaving burnished and exposed rock. White caps rolled down the bay, their tops nipped off, merging with the gray sea smoke streams. 

The wind speed ranged from 23-36 mph with gusts to 47. The wind chill correspondingly ranged from minus 18 to minus 4. Brrrr!

After an overnight low of 3º the temp rose to a remarkable 19º by 8 am, then fell steadily, heading back down to 4º.  Tomorrow is forecast to be cooler than today with continued strong winds.

Last night, I dreamed about hummers, two Anna’s at one feeder. It had to be a dream because they are too territorial to share, but it was a hopeful thought.

This morning, I checked on the remaining 7-watt nightlight feeder in the super-insulated foam box tied to the stepladder top platform. The wind was howling here as the site faces north. Brrr! It still had some liquid sugar solution available in a few ports after last night’s frigid temperatures, but most of it was slushy or frozen. I swapped it out for a fresh feeder topped by a couple pink fuzzy socks to help retain the heat, and clamped a lamp with a 75-watt bulb quite close for good measure.

Then I hung the heat-taped feeder back in its spot. It was almost unrecognizable except for the red rim and bright yellow plastic flowers peeking out.  It sat on top of a super-insulated box made of 2” R-Tech foam and 1 ½” pink foam with a outdoor faucet frost cap and 7 watt nightlight inside, tied together with cord through the handy hummer perches.

I had pre-wrapped the glass portion, heat tape and all, with a piece of a repurposed neoprene vest of some sort, folded to fit around it. I stuffed polyester fiber insulation into the gaps and pushed an old clamp lamp reflector over the top to hold it all together. The heat tape electric cord and hook fit through the handy opening. I hope it will stay liquid through this coming frigid night and week.

I did not see the hummer while I was changing out the feeders in the morning, and did not see him when I checked later in the afternoon around 2:30 pm. Town had plunged into the shadow of the nearby mountains but Ava’s Place was still in the sun so I headed over there to check on her hummer, reported to have survived the coldest night of the season so far.

Even in the lee of the north wind, Ava’s carport was blustery. PINE GROSBEAKS flowed in and out of the porch feeders, BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEES ate one sunflower seed at a time, and a male DOWNY WOODPECKER enjoyed fresh peanut butter in the log feeder.

Then, a green blur! Yay! I waited in eager anticipation, and he returned to feed at the carport feeder for just a minute. Then he left the heat of the 100-watt lamp and sat on an upside down chair next to the cedar siding in the sun, just soaking it up. It must have felt so good on his tiny green back. He reminded me of a butterfly basking, except his long, thin bill swiveled back and forth as he surveyed his kingdom. Occasionally, his extraordinarily long tongue flashed out as if remembering the tasty sugar water.

Every once in a while, a gust of wind blasted through, swirling the snow, and made the little guy leap up, spin around, and then land again. Most of the time he was just fluffed up, slightly disheveled, resting. Once again, he flew over to the feeder and drank for a short minute, then sat back on his favorite upside down chair leg in the sun.

I could see the sun cruising towards the mountains, and sure enough, 20 minutes after I first started watching him, it seemed like someone closed the curtains. The sunny spot no longer, he flew over towards the feeder but chose to sit on the metal rim of a bucket in the metal shelving unit, perhaps slightly protected from the wind but not much. The 100-watt lamp blazed away on the next shelf up, but he was not tempted.

I left him sitting quietly in the shade, a little green stoic bump full of courage and determination, waiting to face the formidable foe of darkness, cold, and wind. What a champ!

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

1 comment:

  1. It's good to see your post about the hummer,.
    i really like it,
    Greener Blast Hummer